Roll20's New Addition: Hard Work over Hubris

Dylan Walker, Blizzard Entertainment
December 6, 2017

“I never thought that Heroes of the Storm would take me to a place like China.” Dane "daneski" Coleman let his words hang in the air for a moment. “When I first started playing, I didn’t think of becoming pro. I didn’t even know there was a professional scene. I never thought I’d come to China. I don’t know… I’m just going with the flow.”

Daneski is sitting in the players’ catering area of the Gold Club World Championship (GCWC). He’s recently jumped ship from Team Freedom to Roll20 Esports, much like POILK and his move from Zealots to Team Dignitas. He’s already scrimmed KSV Black and Team Dignitas today, and in a few minutes, he’ll head back into his team’s lair to practice more—against Ballistix this time.  

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As the only squad representing North America at GCWC, Roll20 went 4-10 in groups—a result that the 20-year-old is comfortable copping to. “You learn more getting bodied here than you do in North America. You don’t get punished in NA. You can just do whatever you want. Here they punish you instantly.”

The negative fan sentiment surrounding North American Heroes esports has eroded a bit over the past year with the successes of Roll20, Tempo Storm, and Team Freedom. Perhaps what sets Roll20 apart is their ability to roll with the punches, no matter how public or embarrassing they might be. 

“We didn’t have the best scrims before this tournament, so we didn’t know what worked and what didn’t work. Now that we’re scrimming good teams, the drafts that we thought were decent have been kind of dumped on.”

Alas, there is always a silver lining. Today it is the fact that they are the only North American team participating in ancillary activities abroad. “We’re learning a lot and improving from it. That’s what we came here for. Specifically, with the new meta, this has been a lesson in macro and how to play team fights. We want to keep that knowledge for when we go back to NA and start playing again.”

Daneski was the primary shotcaller on Team Freedom, with a little help from the rest of the team. Now he points to Justin “Justing” Gapp (sitting next to him) as a secondary voice when it comes down to dictating his team’s movements and rotations in-game.

“Daneski is probably the best mechanical player in North America by far, I think,” said Justing. “In our first scrims, he was just destroying people in 1v1 and 1v2 scenarios. He literally 1v2’d on Greymane one time. We were all just like ‘Um, that Hero can do that?’ He’s a mechanical monster and his coms are always really good.”

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Together, the three of us dove into the specifics of HGC 2018. Both players believe (of course) that Roll20 will be the best team, with Team Freedom and Tempo Storm close behind. “Gale Force might be up there, but we haven’t scrimmed them yet. I think the new Team Freedom is actually pretty good. I’m not really worried about any of the other teams.”

With the rest of the North American scene a comfortable 6,000 miles away, trash talk is easy. It is surely discouraging to fly to the opposite side of the planet just to endure loss after loss, but there is some solace in being invited at all. While they may boast about their status in North America, it’s clear to see they are also aware of where they stand in relation to the rest of the international community. If the new Roll20 has anything going for them, it’s a realistic and adult approach to the playing field.